Graceworks Ministry has purchased a building in Guntersville to fill with businesses serving the Lord.
Kevin Guffey said the building, which at various times has housed a gym, hair salon, Mexican restaurant and consignment shop, will now house a thrift store, the ministry’s office, a bail bonding business and a coffee house.
Graceworks has been in Marshall County for about 12 years, Guffey said. During that time, he and his wife, Tina, have housed the ministry in a few different locations within Albertville and Guntersville, serving the homeless and the addicted.
“Our goal is to set up some type of transitional housing for the homeless,” Guffey said. “We have had 15 homeless people live in our church at one time. We know they are in the county and we know there is a need.”
To help meet the need came the thrift store. All items sold through the store will fund the ministries work, Guffey said.
“We started out in a friend’s apartment,” he said. “We had a storefront in Guntersville, and then in downtown Albertville where we did some outreach.
“But there is an inordinate amount of red tape to opening a shelter. What we are trying to do is get the homeless off the streets.”
The thrift store is large, bright and airy. Children’s, women’s and men’s clothing take up about a third of the space, with furniture, home goods and décor items taking up the rest of the building.
“We really wanted it to be an inviting space, not something you have to wade through or follow a small trail through a bunch of junk,” Guffey said.
“We worked hard to make sure that vision came to reality.”
Amy Kelley, the thrift store manager, said the store is a true blessing to the area.
“It’s a Kingdom thing,” she said. “I’ve worked in thrift stores for years and to be able to work in one in my backyard is a blessing.
“We’re here to help people in what ways we can and that is just a blessing.”
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Donations will be accepted during those hours at the front of the building. Guffey advises donors to call 256-486-3917 when they arrive and someone will come out to help unload.
Monetary donations will also be accepted and used to fund ministries aimed at the homeless and addicted.
In the near future, Guffey hopes to open a coffee house at the north end of the building to also house a meeting area for non-traditional church services.
“We’ll have couches in there, not pews, and have it feel more like you’ve gone to visit a friend’s house,” he said.
He hopes to offer regular events, such as live music nights and recovery meetings in the coffee house.
“We have to focus on the bite in front of us today,” Guffey said of the large renovation project at the shopping center.
“If you look up at the whole elephant, you’ll never get started because you’ll be too overwhelmed.”